To fill the seemingly insatiable demand for parking at Tukwila International Blvd Station, Sound Transit has leased 62 additional spaces nearby. They are available Monday to Friday, 4:30am to 6:30pm.
Mike Lindblom asks the most pertinent questions ($) about this parking:
Sound Transit is paying the city of SeaTac $4,410 per month to lease the space, said spokesman Bruce Gray. If the spaces are filled, this translates to about a $3.40 subsidy per parked car.
There are a lot of things to think about this. The STB community reflex is to note that drivers, as usual, are paying nothing despite the additional subsidy from the transit system. And that’s true.
On the other hand, leasing space is a much less permanent — and therefore much better — arrangement than buying and building more free parking right next to the station. If this parking really brings 62 new riders per weekday to the system, Sound Transit only has to yield $1.70 per boarding for this move to pay off, because the marginal cost to serve those passengers is zero. By comparison, the typical full fare is $2.75, before various discounts for employer deals, passes, shorter trips, senior fares, and whatnot.
In my view, the most irritating thing about this arrangement is the total abdication of the city’s responsibility to provide access to its stations. It’s outrageous that Seatac, honored with one of only thirteen stations in the region, would try to extract its pound of flesh rather than do everything it can to make sure the region’s investment in it is worthwhile by just providing the parking. For more marginal service like North Sounder, this ethic of waiting around for Sound Transit to provide improved station access may prove fatal when the reckoning comes. In this case, it’s taking funds that might be used for more express bus service elsewhere in South King County, about enough to (as a rough example) pay for another weekday round trip on the 577.
[Side Note: This is STB’s 5,000th post. Thanks for all the good times.]